U.S. cheered at Games opening ceremonies
Posted: Saturday August 14, 2004 4:35AM; Updated: Saturday August 14, 2004 4:35AM
ATHENS, Aug 13 (Reuters) -- The U.S. team were greeted with cheers at the opening of the Athens Olympics on Friday but Iraq's squad won an even warmer reception.
If there was a whistle or two at the Americans' entry, the packed crowd of more than 70,000 quickly drowned it out with hearty applause, dispelling fears that the team would be booed over the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq to topple Saddam Hussein.
U.S. officials had cautioned American athletes they might receive a hostile reception and asked them to act with decorum.
They displayed noticeably less of the American exuberance at past Olympic opening ceremonies but there were plenty of happy waves from the team as they marched round the arena.
The burst of cheering that greeted the appearance of Iraq's athletes, dressed in green blazers, seemed to come from a spontaneous well of feeling for the country's unending struggle for peace.
As the stadium filled with the flags of 202 competing nations, after a mesmerising pageant through 3,000 years of history, there was no trace of the anxieties that spawned the biggest, costliest security shield in the modern Olympics.
Despite fears the Games would prove a target for terrorists, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his wife were in the stadium with Princess Anne and former U.S. President George Bush.
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